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The pandemic, pets and divorce

On Behalf of | Nov 11, 2021 | Family Law

According to the ASPCA, millions of people adopted pets during the pandemic. Unfortunately, many of these same people saw their marriages come to an end during this same time.

As such, if you are divorcing, one of the issues you may well need to resolve will be which person keeps the pet.

What the laws say about pets in a divorce

Pennsylvania has equitable distribution laws in terms of property division. This means that the courts will divide assets and liabilities fairly between spouses. Note that equitable is not the same as equal, though many settlements come out that way.

These equitable distribution laws are relevant when it comes to your pet because the law considers domestic animals to be property. As such, a judge is under no obligation to treat your dog or cat differently from your couch when deciding who keeps it.

Tips for resolving the issue yourself

Pets owners generally consider their animals to be more like children than a piece of property. Owners bring pets to the doctor if they are sick and worry about their safety. And pets provide invaluable love and companionship.

In other words, relegating a pet to property status can seem cruel and unfair.

Therefore, owners wishing to protect against this treatment would be wise to address pet custody and support themselves rather than ask a court to decide.

With the help of your attorneys and mediators, you can work out a pet custody and support plan that fits your needs.

You might decide to share custody, bringing your pet over to each other’s house on a set schedule, or you might choose to keep the animal with the person you decide was the primary care provider. You could also work out a financial agreement that makes it easier for parties to cover the expenses for the animal, from food to veterinarian bills.

When you decide these matters yourself, you can have more control over the outcome and ensure the arrangement suits your individual circumstances. 

Whether you have had your pet for a decade or a year, its care can be a primary concern in your divorce. If you have concerns or questions about how to address your pet in your divorce, you can contact The Quinn Law Firm at 814-806-2518 to discuss your options.

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